By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Five years ago, Victor Cruz was viewed as one of the most dangerous and dynamic receivers in the NFL.
He was a breakout star after entering the league as an undrafted free agent. Cruz rose to the level of the elite with the Giants, thrilling New York with his theatrics on the field and in the end zone.
But injuries and inconsistencies kept Cruz from sustaining his level of production, and the Giants ultimately parted ways with him this offseason. The Bears took him in last week, adding a veteran to their mix of unproven receivers.
Can Cruz be that same player again?
“I have that potential to be that guy you saw a few years ago,” Cruz replied. “We’ll see how it goes, we’ll take it one day at a time.”
Cruz, 30, was drawn to the Bears’ opportunity at receiver. After losing Alshon Jeffery to Philadelphia in free agency, Chicago signed Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton to joinKevin White and Cam Meredith. For Cruz, the chance to play a key role will be available. He’ll most likely step into a spot in the slot.
Then there’s the experience factor of Cruz, who immediately becomes the Bears’ most tenured receiver.
Last season, Cruz caught 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown. He played 15 games, his most since 2013, but lost out on a role as the Giants developed the young Sterling Shepard alongside Odell Beckham Jr. After New York added Brandon Marshall this offseason, Cruz became expendable.
Now, Cruz gets a chance to prove himself again, this time with the Bears.
“Everything worked out great,” he said. “Obviously, I’m standing right here today.
“I’m happy to be here. I’m happy we got everything squared away and excited to get started.”